Electronic Voting Machine series: Vote Museum displays collection of key voting machine models

Electronic Voting Machine series: Vote Museum displays collection of key voting machine models

A picture of two ballot boxes at the vote museum

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Visitors to the exhibition "Voting in Brazil: A History of Exclusions and Inclusions", currently in display at the Vote Museum, can now get to know the first voting machines used in the country and a complete collection of electronic voting machine models. The Vote Museum is located at the headquarters of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) in Brasilia.

Until the creation of the electronic voting machine, in the late 19th/early 20th century, some voting machines were already in use. Examples include antique wooden voting machines, also on display, and visitors can also check the American Voting Machine of 1930 (which was never used) and another paper prototype made by a Brazilian inventor in 1960, which was not used in elections either. The exhibition also includes a voting machine manufactured with the aid of inmates, dating from the 1930s and 1940s, and a voting machine made with canvas used in the 1950s.

In 1996 the Electoral Justice brought an innovation to the electoral process: the electronic voting machine. Historian of the TSE Museum and curator of the exhibition, Ana Cajado, explains that the creation of the electronic voting machine was the culmination of the whole computerization process undergone by the country's elections. “The voting machine is the greatest representative of the computerization the Brazilian electoral system went through, but it is part of a broader process, which also involved the re-registration of voters and the implementation of electronic counting for the votes", she said. 

Some models on display, according to the curator, are especially noteworthy. The 1996 model, the first used by the population, had a membrane keyboard. After four years, in 2000, the voting machine's keyboard had raised tactile keys, the result of a design change made in 1998. The change was made, among other reasons, to facilitate voting by visually impaired, elderly and illiterate citizens.

In 2002 the Brazilian Justice Court, in response to a number of questions raised on the reliability of electronic voting, coupled each voting machines with External Printer Module, which printed the votes made in that voting machine for verification purposes at the end of the election. Once it was proven that the electronically counted votes were identical to the ones manually aggregated from the printouts, the TSE abolished the use of the equipment.

The voting machine of 2008 was the first to feature biometric voter identification. This model, which has a fingerprint reader coupled to the terminal used by the electoral officer to identify voters, has been used in the 2010 and 2012 elections. 

About the Vote Museum

The Vote Museum, comprising over 7,500 square feet in visiting areas, is a space used for reflection, educational programs and provision of services to the society, with reserved areas for permanent, periodic and interactive exhibits. The Museum began its history in May 1996, in the former headquarters of the Court, as the TSE Memory Center. 

Learn more about the Vote Museum.